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Dead medium: The Amateur Radio Relay League Radiogram
From: From: jort@teleport.com(Dan Howland)
Source(s): QST Magazine ("Devoted Entirely to Amateur Radio"), February, 1932 == Advertisement

"A.R.R.L. FORMS FOR THE AMATEUR

"Official A.R.R.L. Message Blanks Most convenient form. Designed by the Communications Department of the A.R.R.L. Well printed on good bond paper. Size 8" x 7". Put up in pads of 100 sheets. One pad postpaid for 35" or three pads for $1.00.

"Message Delivery Cards Neatest, simplest way to deliver a message to a near-by town. On U.S. stamped postals, 2" each. On plain cards (for Canada, etc.) 1" each, postpaid."

(((Printed at the the bottom of the Radiogram is the following:)))

"THIS MESSAGE WAS TRANSMITTED FREE OF CHARGE BY AMATEUR RADIO STATIONS OF THE AMERICAN RADIO LEAGUE. ANSWER WILL BE SENT FREE BY FILING AT THIS STATION."

(((It appears that amateur radio enthusiasts received and relayed messages as a point of honor. Was this something people did rather than go to Western Union? Was it cheaper to ask a radio geek to send out your message and hope it would eventually get there? Or was it a service offered by amateurs for people trapped in the boondocks == off exploring forbidden temples or some such? (The Kon Tiki crew, for example, relayed their position to stateside amateur radio hams.)

(((Is this still done? Does anyone know anything more about these radio relay postcards? The articles in this magazine are so filled with radio jargon and 30s slang that it's hard to understand anything but the ads. Sample from page 27: "A Squirt who used too much of what we used to call 'Lake Erie Swing' or sent with a slobbery fist or cluttered up the air with too many CQ's... was called upon by a committee, the chairman of which... exhibited and explained the workings of an instrument known as an *Uggerumph.*" == Dan)))

(((bruces remarks: the crystal-set zealots of the Amateur Radio Relay League seem to have been spiritual ancestors of the Internet. How does one classify these ARRL networked postcards in the media spectrum? Are they "mail," "radio," or "person-to-person ham narrowcasting?" Perhaps Radio Relay postcards are best understood as a dead precursor of email.)))

Dan Howland (jort@teleport.com)
Journal of Ride Theory,
P.O. Box 2044
Portland, OR 97208-2044